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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: November 4-November 12, 2004

Friday, November 12, 2004:

My friend Jugdish brought to my attention an article from the New York Times (that was picked up by the Houston Chronicle) that specifically casts doubt upon the article by Kathy Dopp that I linked to a week ago, which contained the chart of the election results in Florida, by county. (Dopp, for her part, posted a rebuttal here. And in the interest of attempting to be semi-objective, I'll note that Dopp really shouldn't use the phrase "everyone knows that..." if she wants to be taken seriously in a persuasive essay.)

I don't find the Times article particularly convincing for a few reasons, now that I've looked at it closely. For one, it attempts to dismiss all accusations of fraud and questionable results with the phrase, "Within days of the first rumors of a stolen election, the most popular theories were being proved wrong," specifically mentioning Bev Harris's site and www.commondreams.org in the article's lead, though it goes on only to discuss Dopp's table. That strikes me as a fairly blatant attempt at guilt by association, even assuming that Dopp's table was indeed debunked, which it hasn't conclusively been. There is, admittedly, an allusion to "very real voting anomalies in Florida and Ohio" in the Times piece, but only the computer glitch in Columbus that gave Bush an extra 3,893 votes is specifically mentioned, and only then because it's been "caught and corrected."

Secondly, the only evidence that the author (Tom Zeller Jr.) presents to dismiss the Dopp results is the sentence, "Three political scientists from Cornell, Harvard and Stanford universities pointed out, in an e-mail message to a Web site that carried the news, that many of those Democratic counties in Florida have a long tradition of voting Republican in presidential elections." That's not really the checkmate! move that Zeller apparently thinks it is, for two reasons:

(1) He doesn't provide any quotations from or links to that particular e-mail. (You can read it here, by the way, and there are a couple rebuttals by Elizabeth Liddle and Marc Sapir... neither of which, I should point out, is accompanied by any reference to their respective credentials to be writing rebuttals. I'm just saying.) You'd think that if this e-mail was so damning and final, Zeller would at least have something more specific to say about it than a reductive paraphrase. I'm willing to grant, though, that this may simply be shoddy reporting and not an intentional twisting of facts.

(2) More to the point, the e-mail does nothing to explain why, as Dopp writes, "counties using Op-scan machines showed significant positive percent change only for the Republican candidate, the mean change for the Democrat being insignificantly greater than zero. The probability of this happening by chance would be less than one in one thousand." The real issue, to my mind, is not that some Democrats crossed party lines to vote for Bush. Rather, it's the logical impossibility of such vast numbers of Democrats (nearly 60% in Liberty County, as I mentioned) doing so for an incumbent president who is so openly despised by so many, coupled with the apparent lack of one single Florida county in which Bush got fewer votes than expected. There's not a one! And that's the crux of the argument, which Zeller fumblingly sidesteps.

Though I will admit to being very susceptible to conspiracy theories at the best of times- and especially now, when I keep hoping and praying that Good is somehow still going to pull a Brett Favre-esque fourth quarter victory over Evil- I think that Zeller's article is bullshit reporting at best and transparent partisan hackery at worst. I'm glad Jugdish brought it to my attention, but even if Dopp's table is proven to be unfounded, it's hardly the sole linchpin of our case to demand an official investigation or recount of the election results.

Frankly, at this point, I recognize that it's naive of me to hope that anything's going to happen at the last minute to overturn the election results. Even if widespread fraud is uncovered and it's proved independently and incontrovertibly that Kerry won the election, no one in a position of power is going to have the guts to do anything about it. It's just not gonna happen, because Bush and Friends have so successfully cowed everyone into feeling as though they're not allowed to speak out lest they be branded as unpatriotic. For the next four years, those assholes are going to behave even more insanely than they did for the past four, ostensibly because their official 51% victory in the election counts as a "mandate" from the people to stay the course (but actually because they now don't have to worry about something as trifling as re-election, and thus don't have to take popular opinions into account while making decisions even to the teensy degree they've done thus far), and as much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I can't help but feel that things are only gonna get worse.

I think I need to go make a milkshake and maybe watch some Game Show Network.

CURRENT MUSIC: Heart by Stars.
Hooray for America!
"Bush Runs Victory Lap Around World Trade Center Site."
10:00 PM.

Doot? | |

Monday, November 8, 2004 (second post):

Okay, time to update you on the World o' Will, which I would put in acronym form if doing so wouldn't open me up to a lawsuit from Olestra.

Bev's two-week visit was pure bliss. I'm totally gonna marry her, so you can feel free to start sending me wedding presents every month until that occurs, and then for several months thereafter. And she probably wouldn't mind if I said that we were registered at half.com, but all we want is gift certificates.

For the music department.

Anyway, I don't have the time or energy to detail all the wonderful adventures Bev and I had together, so I'll just hit a couple highlights: like the Camper Van Beethoven show we saw in Royal Oak. I'm not sure if Bev was as blown away by CVB as I was, not having grown up addicted to them as I was, but they totally kicked my ass. However, before they took the stage was a local band called Shipwreck Union, who... were very much a local band. And very much an opening band. And seriously? If your biggest musical influences are Stillwater from Almost Famous and the Goo Goo Dolls (which is to say that, more often than not, they sounded like Richard Marx), you really shouldn't be doing Pete Townshend windmills on your guitar. During one of their final songs, there was a false ending, during which time the only audible sound in the entire club was Bev's unstoppable giggling echoing off the walls. She tried to muffle it in my shirt, but nope- Shipwreck Union's Cavalcade of Cliches would not let her throat be silenced. She's so cool.

And Camper was well worth waiting for. They ran through lots of songs from their new masterpiece, New Roman Times, as well as old favorites, and although I think their show at the Vic Theatre in Chicago last spring was slightly better simply because the Vic's sound is impeccable (and this time around, CVB were playing with borrowed instruments after having their gear stolen in Montreal), they were plainly determined to give the crowd ten times the entertainment we'd expected. And whether that meant an encore that was almost entirely composed of requests shouted from the audience, an emotional run-through of "Sad Lovers Waltz," or a seemingly impromptu decision to take on the difficult faux-ethnic rarity "L'Aguardiente," the band seemed up for anything, and truly to be having fun. I got to shake Victor Krummenacher's hand at the end of the show, which was a great moment for this fanboy. (I was at the end of the line of people whose hands he shook, and Bev withdrew her hand from the queue just before he got to mine, because she said she knew it would mean a lot more to me than it did to her. See why I love her?)

Also, for die-hard fans: a guy who was standing behind Bev and me as we engaged in the sorts of PDAs that I scorned at concerts when I wasn't able to commit them mentioned something interesting: he claimed to have spoken with David Lowery before the show, and David said that CVB's 2002 release of a two-disc version of Fleetwood Mac's album Tusk was not, as they claimed, recorded as a one-off in the '80s. If this guy is to be believed, the set was actually recorded following the band's unofficial 1999 reunion, and the positive reaction that Tusk received was enough to convince CVB to decide, "We've still got it!" and record New Roman Times. Beautiful scam, that. If it's true.

Anyway, Bev was also sweet and patient enough to accompany me to the voting... place... last Tuesday, in Troy. (She'd voted by absentee ballot in Maine a month or so ago.) I'm still registered as a resident of Troy, even though I live in Ypsilanti, because I figure that Troy needs my vote more than this notoriously left-wing area does. Anyway, I had to vote in a church, and Bev was not only wonderful enough to wait with me for the entire hour that this poorly-planned exercise took, but she also snagged a bunch of free, hilarious fundamentalist pamphlets to amuse us.

For instance, here's a bit from the flipbook-sized tract Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws? by Campus Crusade for Christ: "Did you ask Jesus into your life? Were you sincere? Where is He right now? Jesus said that He would come into your life. Would He mislead you? Then where is He?" I just love how combative that is: you can practically hear Edward G. Robinson's character from The Ten Commandments sneering it at you. It's a pretty good encapsulation, too, of the way Campus Crusade for Christ seems to have adopted as its mission the high-horse questioning of those who already believe. Never mind preaching to the choir; CCC will stand up and try to drown out the choir with cries of "Heathen!"

And Bev was also good enough to hold me during my drunken bawling session on Election Night.

I just love her to bits. And there's plenty more I could tell you, but I won't because I like keeping it a secret. She'll be back in early December, though, so more stories will likely follow.

CURRENT MUSIC: The Sounds of the Sounds of Science by Yo La Tengo.
Content, just talking about Bev.
WHY AREN'T THERE ANY GOOD SHOWS ON MONDAY NIGHT? Even Everybody Loves Raymond isn't on tonight. What gives? It's Sweeps Month, fer Pete's sake!
7:42 PM.

Doot? |

Monday, November 8, 2004:

Okay, no more election rampaging for me right now. A post with Willie-related news (which is why you've tuned in, after all) will follow this'un. If you'd like to read more rampaging, Mark's review of Air Miami's Fuck You, Tiger is pretty much the be all, end all of vitriol against Bush voters. And for those of you who are interested in keeping up on how the Republicans cheated their way to victory yet again by suppressing votes that should've been counted, here's a convenient collection of links, courtesy of Lisa (who posted a lot of these in the "comments" section of my previous entry) and Robin:

Best place to start: www.blackboxvoting.org (Robin says, "That's Bev Harris' site and she's trying to create a clearinghouse-type site for people to go to report stuff and also to get together and take action. At this point I think the most important thing isn't to start the circular firing squad, but rather to count the fucking votes! Every one. And, to bring to light the massive voter disenfranchising and fraud going on all over the country since these bozos got ahold of our government. If it still looks like Bush won after that then ok, we'll just have to work harder. But until I'm convinced they didn't steal this election, I'm not going quietly. Three congresspeople are already petitioning the GAO to investigate the voting fraud across the country. (Notice how the mass media is totally ignoring this, along with their part in helping it to happen? Fucking bastards!)"

Here's an interesting post about how, in the 2000 election, the "hanging chad" problem in Florida may have been so widespread because the punch cards were designed to be thicker and harder to punch in the area that would've marked a vote for Gore: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=132&topic_id=1336982&mesg_id=1338417&page= Frankly, if this is true, I have to begrudgingly admire the evil brilliance of that plan.

And an article about angry Ohio citizens storming the State House: http://michiganimc.org/feature/display/7644/index.php

And here's a video that I couldn't get to work, in which Michael Moore collaborator Dave Pentecost captures a whole pile of voter harassment in Ohio on Election Day: http://www.boingboing.net/2004/11/08/update_electionday_f.html

Here's a curious chart comparing the exit poll results with the mechanical vote counts in nine states (I suggest you enlarge it, but the results from Florida and Ohio are the left and middle states in the bottom row): http://bluelemur.com/images/stories/evotingbig.gif

"The Open Voting Consortium (OVC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for use in public elections.": http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/

Here's an article about Diebold, the private company that designed and supplied a lot of voting machines during this election, and whose CEO, as I recall, stated several years ago that his job was "to deliver this election to George W. Bush": http://www.opednews.com/thoreau_110404_diebold.htm

An editorial about the election results that cites a lot of nationwide irregularities: http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/110804A.shtml

Another well-researched editorial: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/kerry_won_.php

And finally (for now), here's a sort of meta-article on why the media isn't reporting all of the above: http://www.counterpunch.org/swanson11082004.html

Okay. More to come, now that this is outta my system.

CURRENT MUSIC: Black Cherry by Goldfrapp.
Oh, you know...
Pack of Act II microwave popcorn, snack-size packet of Oreos, several spoonfuls (spoonsful?) of cottage cheese.
6:07 PM.

Doot? | |

Friday, November 5, 2004:

I really and truly didn't want to do another election post once I got that one last night out of my system, but... well, I'm a weak man. And something interesting has come up. (I'll try to make it quick and then move on to other things later.)

At work, Robin showed me a website that she'd found linked from Salon: it's a chart showing the official voting numbers for every county in Florida. Look closely at the "percent change" column, which mathematically analyzes the disparity between the expected votes for each party (measured by the number of registered Democrats/Republicans who demonstrably voted on Tuesday; that is, assuming that everyone would vote for the party for which they're registered) and the actual number of votes that party's candidate received.

It's not explained very well on the site, I don't think, and I'm not sure how clearly I'm explaining it myself, but here's an example to illustrate what Robin and I think they're saying: In Baker County, for instance, 6,895 registered Democrats voted. Kerry received 2,180 votes. Thus, that's a "percent change" of -68.4%.

Now, strangely, there is not ONE single county in which the Republicans have a negative "percent change," and in fact, only one county (Martin) in which their positive percent change is less than double-digits... and that change stretches into triple digits in 26 counties! Meanwhile, Kerry routinely pulls negative changes of 50% or more.

Let me hit you with some math.

Let's take Liberty County, for instance. If I'm reading this correctly, there are 322 registered Republicans in that county (4,075 registered voters, 7.9% of whom are Republican = 321.9), and 3,598 registered Democrats, as well as 155 registered voters without a party affiliation. 237 of those Republicans actually voted on Tuesday, and 2,667 registered Democrats did. Yet, Bush received 1,927 votes to Kerry's 1,070.

Assuming all 237 Republicans voted for Bush, that leaves 1,690 votes cast by people who are not registered Republicans.

Assuming all 155 independent voters not only voted, but unanimously went for Bush, that leaves 1535 votes that registered Democrats must have cast for George W. Bush.

1535 votes!

Of 2,667 registered Democrats!

Which would mean that 57.5% of the registered Democrats in that county- a county in which a whopping 88.3% of registered voters are Democrats!- crossed party lines to vote for the man whose first term was arguably the most reviled by left-wingers in American history.

Do you sense that something might be a little fishy there?

How about when you consider that a "computer glitch" gave Bush an extra 3,893 votes in Ohio?

How about when you consider the fact that Karl Rove 'n' Friends have already cheated their way to a victory in Florida once in a presidential election?


CURRENT MUSIC: The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered; that new Daniel Johnston tribute album.
TEXT OF A "POEM" THAT BEV AND I FOUND ON THE GROUND EARLIER IN THE WEEK: "Smokin some wood/Why cause I could." Yes, I know "weed" would make more sense than "wood," but it says "wood." And it's entitled "Chillin in da Hood," so that rhymes too. It's written on the back of an essay test from Washtenaw Community College, regarding "the social, economic and cultural activities of the early Michigan Pioneers." The concluding sentence of the essay reads as follows: "And I also heard once the Michigan had the first state fair in the country, but I am not sure of when that took place for the first time."
5:21 PM.

Doot? | |

Thursday, November 4, 2004:

I'm going to try not to go on too much about the election, because I know you know, but there's something that I do want to get off my chest. And this is going to be self-righteous and grandiose and partisan and basically just inappropriate in every way that I like to pretend that I'm not in a holier-than-thou fashion, but I'm too upset right now to give lip service to the validity of opinions that don't agree with my own. Ha. Anyway. A few years ago, I think after the 2002 elections, The Onion ran one of those "What Do You Think?" pieces about the Republican boost in Congress, and one of the fictitious responses was something like, "Joseph de Maistre said, 'Every country has the government it deserves'... but I don't remember knife-raping a retarded nun."

Now, for the past four years, those of us on the side of good have been fighting our hardest to keep America respected in the world. As Dubya pissed off the entire planet by running roughshod over everyone else- e.g., rejecting the Kyoto Protocol outright- plenty of patriotic Americans went out of their way to emphasize to our foreign friends that the Bush administration did not speak for everyone or, indeed, even the majority of our nation's citizens. He stole the election, he makes no secret of the fact that he represents only the richest of the rich and the whitest of the white, he believes that God tells him what to do, etc. Please don't judge us by his actions.

Then, after 9/11, we had the sympathy and friendship of the entire world. And Dubya pissed it away yet again, by pre-emptively launching a war in a nation that demonstrably had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda on a state level, against a dictator who- while unquestionably brutal and amoral- was being effectively castrated by peaceful methods sanctioned by the U.N., and this war was launched in defiance of worldwide opposition. Yet again, those of us who believe in things like peace and love and other apparently antiquated notions made a big stink: not just because we wanted the government to know where we stood, but because we wanted the rest of the world to know that this asshole is just doing whatever he wants with no regard for how that portion of humanity in possession of hearts, souls, and so on, that is trying its damnedest to make clear that THIS IS WRONG, felt.

For four years, those of us who were branded "traitors," "unpatriotic," "hippies," "bleeding-hearts," "pussies," and so on pushed forth in the belief that the majority of Americans would do what was right if you lit a fire under them. I saw Michael Moore speak at Eastern Michigan University a year ago, and while he's admittedly not the most objective source of information, he cited a number of respected and easily verifiable sources, such as the CNN/Gallup organization, showing encouraging statistics stating that the majority of Americans were against the war, against a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and all those other hateful things. (It was a slim majority, but it was a majority nonetheless.) And, wanting as I did and do to love this country, I quoted those to my friends from other nations who basically viewed America as the big cowboy bully at the bar who keeps calling you a "faggot" in an attempt to embarrass you in front of your girlfriend.

No, I said. That's just our president. And his administration. And a vocal contingency of fundies who aren't as widespread as they would have you believe. Those. Assholes. Do. Not. Represent. America.

Well, any pretense of worldwide credibility was yanked from beneath us on Tuesday. Huge boost for the GOP in Congress yet again. Bush winning not just the electoral vote, but the popular vote with a record number of supporters. A mind-bogglingly hateful constitutional ban on homosexual marriages in all eleven states in which such an amendment was on the ballot. We are those assholes, evidently.

But don't worry, Rest of the World. You don't have to do anything to stop us. We're gonna self-destruct first.

We, as a nation, have knife-raped a retarded nun.

CURRENT MUSIC: We Have Come for Your Children by the Dead Boys and XTRMNTR by Primal Scream.
She is not Canadian, and therefore can't make me a citizen when I marry her.
7:20 PM.

Doot? | |

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